Delve into authentic Japanese life on this unique small group tour, which combines the main attractions of Tokyo and Kyoto with lesser-visited destinations on a fascinating journey across Honshu – Japan’s main island. Journey through the breathtaking Japanese Alps and along the coast while enjoying a host of traditional cultural experiences, local traditions and intriguing insights into this captivating nation.

• Tokyo: 3 nights

• Kiso Valley: 1 night

• Takayama: 1 night

• Kanazawa: 2 nights

• Hiroshima: 1 night

• Kyoto: 3 nights

12nights Escorted Small Group Tour
Escorted Small Group Tour

Day 1: UK to Tokyo Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Tokyo.

Day 2: Tokyo On arrival, you’ll be met by our local representative before transferring to your hotel in central Tokyo by rail or bus and a short taxi ride. This evening, enjoy dinner in the hotel. Approx. journey time: 1½ hours. Stay: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza. D.

Day 3: Tokyo Begin your exploration of this fascinating city in Asakusa – the home of the Edokko (original residents of Tokyo) and Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple. Explore the surrounding streets to get a sense of the local culture. Enjoy lunch here before taking the subway to the former merchant district of Fukagawa. Wander through the Kiyosumi Teien – pretty gardens with stepping stones over serene ponds – before visiting a small museum that recreates a late Edo-period local scene. This evening, head out for your authentic Japanese welcome dinner at a lively izakaya restaurant where you can sample lots of small dishes. Stay: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza. B, L, D.

Day 4: Tokyo Begin your day at the Nezu Shrine and then stroll through the traditional neighbourhood of Yanaka. Discover a collection of art and antiquities at the Tokyo National Museum before continuing through the Ueno Park and Ameyoko-cho street market. Your next stop is Akihabara, a gadget lover’s dream that’s home to an abundance of electronic goods. End your day in the Ginza shopping and entertainment district. Stay: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza. B.

Day 5: Tokyo to Kiso Valley Rise early this morning to transfer by train – including the Shinkansen bullet train (approx. 3 hours) – to the pretty Kiso Valley and the Nakasendo Way. Visit the Hiroshige Print Museum in Ena and try woodblock painting. Continue by coach to an old post town and visit a local history museum housed in a high-class inn. Spend the night in an excellent modern ryokan, or Japanese inn, with onsen – thermal hot spring baths. Stay: Kisoji Iwaya (or similar). B, D.

Day 6: Kiso Valley to Takayama Visit the historic barrier station of Kiso-Fukushima and continue to Matsumoto (approx. 1 hour) for a tour of the city’s castle. Learn about the samurai before admiring spectacular views of the Japanese Alps from the castle keep (weather permitting). Enjoy lunch at a traditional miso manufacturer. Journey through the Japanese Alps to the town of Takayama (approx. 2 hours). Enjoy wagyu beef for dinner at the hotel. Stay: Best Western Hotel Takayama (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 7: Takayama to Kanazawa This morning explore the historic Jinya. Stroll around the Sanmachi district and visit a local sake brewer before visiting the small village of Shirakawa-go. Continue on to Kanazawa which was spared from large scale bombing during the Pacific War and has retained its traditional charm (approx. 1 hour). Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Stay: Kanazawa Excel Tokyu Hotel (or similar). B, D.

Day 8: Kanazawa Stroll through the old streets of Kanazawa. Visit the samurai district and the former pleasure quarters and temples. Stop at Kanazawa’s best Japanese inn for lunch and enjoy a feast of kaiseki ryori – a formal multi-course meal – overlooking the Saigawa river or charming Japanese gardens. This afternoon visit beautiful Kenroku-en – deemed one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan’. Stay: Kanazawa Excel Tokyu Hotel (or similar). B, L.

Day 9: Kanazawa to Hiroshima Take the bullet train (approx. 4½ hours) to Hiroshima, a vibrant city with a haunting past. Ride one of Japan’s last remaining tram systems to the thought-provoking Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum. This evening enjoy dinner at an okonomiyaki restaurant where diners sit around a hot plate and choose ingredients for savoury pancakes which are cooked in front of them. Your luggage will be sent ahead to Kyoto overnight so you’ll need to carry overnight items in your day bag. Stay: Hotel Sunroute Hiroshima (or similar). B, D.

Day 10: Hiroshima to Kyoto Ride a tram to Miyajima-guchi and take a ferry to the beautiful island of Miyajima. Return to Hiroshima and ride the bullet train to the imperial city of Kyoto. Stretch your legs with a visit to Nijo Castle. After dinner, stroll through the evocative geisha district of Pontocho which is home to charming wooden merchant houses and traditional tea houses. If you’re lucky then you may spot geishas dressed in all their finery. Stay: Kyoto Tokyu Hotel (or similar). B, D.

Day 11: Kyoto Visit the Rokuon-ji temple which offers a perfect example of a Zen rock garden and see the iconic Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) which is coated in gold leaf and lies on the shores of a lake. Continue to the Ryoan-ji temple – famous for its meditation garden, before riding the light rail to Arashiyama. Walk through the low hills and visit the tiny picturesque Gio-ji Temple which is set in a moss garden, and pass Rakushisha, a quaint cottage that was home to one of the disciples of Basho, a haiku master regarded as Japan’s greatest poet. Return to the city by train. Stay: Kyoto Tokyu Hotel (or similar). B, L.

Day 12: Kyoto Soak up the serene atmosphere at Daitoku-ji – a large walled temple complex, and learn about Japanese architecture and zen garden design. Meet a tea master and experience chado, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony before stopping for lunch at a restaurant specialising in shojin ryori – delicious vegetarian temple cuisine. Visit the 15th-Century Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion), which is set in tranquil gardens. Stroll along the scenic Philosopher’s Path, through quiet suburbs, past temples and along a cherry tree-lined canal, to the Heian-jingu Shrine where you’ll learn about Kyoto’s Shinto roots. Transfer by taxi to Nishiki, Kyoto’s bustling central market which features over a hundred vendors selling local delicacies, from octopus skewers to tofu doughnuts. Enjoy a farewell dinner and reminisce over your tour highlights. Stay: Kyoto Tokyu Hotel (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 13: Kyoto Spend time at leisure exploring the city, before transferring to the airport by airport shuttle bus for your return flight to the UK. B.

Stay longer

Tokyo (pre tour) 2 nights
Add a couple of nights in futuristic Tokyo to really start your journey off in style.

Stay longer

Tokyo (pre tour) 2 nights
Add a couple of nights in futuristic Tokyo to really start your journey off in style.


Is this for you?

Great for first-time visitors with a good level of fitness, who want to fully immerse themselves in Japanese life and culture.

Good to know

• For guests aged 16 and over (unless on a private journey)

• Average group size of 12 guests

• A maximum of 14 guests

• Tipping is not expected in Japan.

What to expect

• Travel by coach, car, tram, subway, taxi and the bullet train

• This tour is only suitable for guests with a good level of fitness

• We recommend packing light as you will be required to carry your own luggage on and off public transport throughout the tour (there are no porters in Japan) and luggage space can be limited

• Hotel rooms can be quite small

• Meals are traditionally Japanese style and usually include raw and cooked fish, meat and vegetables

• Special diets including vegetarian and gluten-free are not widely understood or catered for in Japan and choices can be limited, please call for further details

• Swimwear is not permitted in the single sex hot spring baths

• On Day 9, your luggage will be sent ahead to Kyoto overnight so you’ll need to carry overnight items in your day bag.

Accommodation on tour

Throughout your stay you’ll experience consistently high standards and superb service. In the Kiso Valley you’ll have an authentic taste of traditional life and Japan’s legendary hospitality with a stay in a modern inn. Slip off your shoes in Kisoji Iwaya, a family-run ryokan, and enjoy traditional features such as futon bedding, tatami (straw mat flooring), rice paper sliding doors and rooftop onsen, or hot springs.

Single travellers

Single room supplement from £495


Tour dates

2019 Mar 20, 31; April 07, 10; Oct 06

Included in price

• Quality accommodation

• Insightful local tour leaders

• Hand-picked itineraries

• Flexible arrival times

• Small groups and a relaxed approach

• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), or the freedom to explore local restaurants independently

• All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £6405 per person.

Kuoni highlights

You’ll visit many of the must-see attractions in the main cities as well as some lesser-visited mountain towns. Travelling around on public transport and the iconic bullet train is a great way to experience Japan and immerse yourself in local life. Enjoy a taste of the local culture with experiences including sake-tasting with a local brewer, wood block painting, bathing in hot springs and an interactive okonomiyaki dining experience.

Kuoni highlights